Applications have been closed
14 Startups have been selected for 2022

1Program Background

In the 21st century, innovation is dramatically changing not only the marketplace but also everyday life around the world. At the same time, global warming, mass consumption, and economic disparity are increasing threats to the sustainability of human society, forcing us to fundamentally rethink the way we act. In response to these changes in the environment, business activities, which until now have placed the highest priority on economic growth, are now strongly required to focus on the realization of a better society, based on the principle of a more macro perspective represented by the SDGs, as the direction of development and growth in the 202X generation.

In response to these changes in the market environment, Hyogo Prefecture and Kobe City, which are promoting the creation of an ecosystem-based on startups, launched the “SDGs CHALLENGE” startup support program last year in 2021, intending to create a better environment and industry for the next generation.

This program supports startups aiming to solve the world’s SDGs issues by providing acceleration programs, mentoring, and networking to support their business development and overseas expansion.

2Purpose of the Program

The purpose of this program is to support the business development of startups and SMEs seeking to solve global SDG issues and create systems and products that will create global social change.

3Targeted Startups

We are looking for the following startups or small and medium-sized enterprises that contribute to the SDGs through business development and business growth and aim to explore expansion into the global market :

  • Seed-stage startups
  • Small and medium-sized enterprises planning or taking on the challenge of a second startup (new business)

4Program Outline

I.Accelerators & Business development support

Founders Meeting (mutual exchange among business owners)

During the program (from Jul. 28th to Oct. 28th), all founders or managing directors of selected startups are requested to attend these meetings, which are held every Friday evening. Each company reports on its business goals, progress, and challenges at this meeting. The companies consult, comment, and advise each other.
(*) We encourage you to come to the KOBE office and attend the meeting.

Mentoring, Business Matching, and Workshops
  • Individual interviews with mentors (mentoring)
  • Business matching
  • Workshops by mentors and experts (Pitch training, English presentations, practical advice by lawyers, accountants, VCs, etc.)
Mid-term Demo Day and Open Conference
  • Mid-term Demo Day (early November) to promote your business to government officials, VCs, and corporate strategists
  • Public demonstration day “SDGs Day” (early March) to tell your business to KOBE citizen
Support Exploring Expansion into the Global Markt
  • Providing local information and information on global expansion
  • Networking with the international startup community

II.Financial support for Exploring Expansion into the Global Markt

(Note: Applicants only, subject to screening)

We will support the necessary expenses for startups that wish to conduct overseas demonstration and research projects.
Applicants who wish to apply for this support should complete Appendix 2 and apply.
If there is a potential fit, we will reach out to schedule an interview.
(Up to 10 companies selected).

  • We support business activities that fall into one of the following categories. Activities that fall into more than one category are acceptable. Details will be determined in a separate discussion:

    Overseas customer and market research, a survey of potential development partners, and demonstration projects (prototype production, etc.)
    * maximum 2 million yen per company (tax included)
    Exhibition in overseas showcases
    * maximum 1 million yen per company (tax included)
    Join surveys organized by the program (building relationships with the overseas startup community, networking with entrepreneurs and innovators)
    Please refer to the followiing outline:
    * maximum 500K yen per company (tax included)
    Survey Tour
    Date: Mid-September, 2022
    Planned destinations: Germany, France, Scandinavia
    Description: Visits to incubation facilities and start-up centers in significant cities pioneers in SDG-related and social impact business development and exchanges with local entrepreneurs.
    Travel period: approximately one week to 10 days
    *Please note that we may consider other plans based on the interest of the participating companies.
  • The following expenses are eligible for support :

    • Number of travelers: Up to 3 per company
    • Eligible Expenses: *Please see Attachment 3 for details on qualified expenses
    • Airline tickets (including airport fees, fuel surcharges, and other necessary expenses)(Note: Domestic travel expenses for overseas travel are not eligible.)
    • Accommodation expenses
    • Exhibit fee
    • Event participation fee
    • Transportation fee (only when exhibiting at an exhibition)
    • Commission fee (to be determined after screening based on the specificity of the application/plan and the method of acceptance inspection/confirmation)


The activities of this program, such as meetings and mentoring, are conducted in Japanese.
However, since this program aims to support overseas development, activities and exchanges will be conducted in English.

6Number of companies to be selected

About 20 companies.

7Program Fee

Free of Charge.
(NOTE: Travel, accommodation, and other expenses necessary for participation in the program, including a trip to the Kobe venue, are to be borne by the participants.)


KIGYO Plaza HYOGO & UNOPS S3i Innovation Centre Japan Address:
SMBC KOBE headquator building 2F,
Naniwa-cho 56, Chuou-ku, Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture

9Program Schedule

Accelaration PeriodJuly 28th – October 28th, 2022

  • Boot-CampJuly 28th – 30th, 2022
  • Founders’ MeetingEvery Friday from Aug.5th to Oct.28th, 2022
  • Mid-Term Demo DayBegining of November, 2022
*The founder (CEO) or managing director must participate in the above activities.
*In addition to the above, we provide business development support (mentoring & business matching) and overseas expansion to individual companies.
*We may hold additional workshops as needed.

Additional Support Period November, 2022 – March, 2023

  • Founders’ Meetingonce evry per 3 weeks
*The founder (CEO) or managing director must participate in the above activities.
* In addition to the above, we provide business development support (mentoring & business matching) and overseas expansion to individual companies.

Public demonstration day “SDGs Day”(early March)

*The founder (CEO) or managing director must participate in the above activities.

Financial Support for Demonstration and Research Projects for Overseas Operations(After approval of the plan, until January 31, 2023 (Tuesday))

10How to apply & Application Period

Applications opened on May 17th, 2022. The deadline to apply is June 19th, 2022. The deadline has been extended until June 30th, 2022.
If you want to apply, please submit your application online as soon as possible.
* Regarding required information to apply, please refer to the Annex-1.

The SDGs CHALLENGE 2022 team reviews all applications carefully. If there is a potential fit, we will reach out to schedule an interview.


The SDGs CHALLENGE 2022 team reviews all applications carefully. If there is a potential fit, we will contact you via e-mail to schedule an interview. We will be inviting teams to talk to us on a rolling basis.
Applicants who wish to conduct overseas demonstration/research projects are required to submit a separate detailed project plan (please refer to the Annex-2 ). We will schedule an interview after screening it.

We will qualify all applications by the following guideline:

  • That have already started to develop and market a concrete business (R&D) (not at the level of an idea)
  • That has a clear target issue, customer, business goal or vision, and an activity policy that matches the application’s theme based on the SDGs.
  • Whose business activities are expected to impact the regional economy of Hyogo/Kobe positively and can serve as a catalyst for change in the market as a whole.
  • The founder or managing director must be able to participate in the program on their initiative.
  • Participation in programs that require on-site participation (boot camps, interim debriefing sessions, and “SDGsDay,” a public demonstration day).
  • Willingness to actively participate in and contribute to the startup community in Hyogo and Kobe, including the SDGsCHALLENGE

12Notification of Acceptance

We will respond with a decision before launching the Program in July 2022.
All selected teams will be announced on our web site:

13Requests for cooperation in surveys and follow-up

We will ask all applicants to cooperate in surveys and hearings to improve our SDGs CHALLENGE program.

14Other Notes

  • We will implement this program at KIGYO Plaza Hyogo and UNOPS S3i Innovation Centre Japan. When you join the program and use our facilities, please comply with the facilities’ terms and conditions of use. The proposer has intellectual property rights to the business plan and other information.
  • However, the proposer is responsible for taking measures to legally protect information such as patents, utility models, trade secrets, and know-how and is requested to submit proposals to the extent that it is acceptable to make them public.
  • The contents of the submitted documents, including personal information, will be shared with Hyogo Prefecture, Kobe City, UNOPS S3i Innovation Centre Japan, and the contracted operators, Community Link NPO and Yamashita Project, Inc. The information will also be shared and used to the extent necessary for this program’s cooperating and sponsoring organizations.
  • The submitted personal information will not be used for any other purpose or provided to any third party, except for related parties unless otherwise stipulated by law or agreed to by the applicant.
  • Suppose we find any misrepresentation or failure to meet the requirements after the qualified or launched program. In that case, the applicant will be disqualified or asked to withdraw from the program during the program.


If you have any questions, please contact to the contracted operators, Community Link NPO (Nakanishi or Tatsumi) via e-mail :

Applications have been closed


This program is operated by CommunityLink commissioned by Hyogo Prefecture and Kobe City.

Such program and services are provided for educational and informational purposes only and under no circumstances should any content provided as part of any such program, services or events be construed as investment, legal, tax or accounting advice by us or any of its affiliates.

This post is intended solely to provide information regarding the stated program. All content provided in this post is provided for general informational or educational purposes only.

We makes no representations as to the accuracy or information contained in this post and while we have taken reasonable steps to ensure that the information contained in this post is accurate and up-to-date, no liability can be accepted for any error or omissions.